How might our institutions provide intentional and sustainable pathways to build 21st century competencies and help our students find meaningful employment in their desired career field?


The Lab is pleased to announce a three-year engagement with UNCF’s Career Pathways Initiative (CPI). African-American unemployment rates remain almost twice as high as unemployment rates for whites. From March 2017 to March 2018, black unemployment averaged 7.4 percent compared to 3.7 percent average for white Americans.

As a response to lopsided unemployment rates, the Lilly Endowment invested $50 million to UNCF to create a Career Pathways Initiative (CPI) to fund efforts at 24 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and predominantly black institutions (PBIs) to strengthen institutional career placement outcomes. To support the understanding of employer needs and how they relate to the future of postsecondary education, The Lab has been contracted by UNCF to work with subset of 14 Career Pathways Initiative institutions to hasten and strengthen implementation of their plans.


The Lab will work with the selected institutions in three different cohorts with distinct focuses:

Foundational Education cohort: approaches include curriculum re-design, identification of gateway courses, and first and second year experiences that pose barriers to progression for students.


Workforce Development cohort: approaches to strengthen the connection between college majors and careers, such as through the development of strategic partnerships with the workforce.


Faculty Development cohort: approaches used to assist faculty in better understanding the skills and competencies needed in the workforce, and to aid faculty in aligning and delivering curriculum to those identified needs.

Project History

June 2017:
Innovation Capacity Building Design Sprint

The Education Design Lab first announced a partnership with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Career Pathways Initiative to co-host their 2nd Annual Career Pathways Initiative Convening with historically black colleges and universities (“HBCUs”). During this two-and-a-half day hands-on engagement in late June 2017, 27 college presidents and their senior teams explored innovation tools and design capacity for four-year HBCUs and primarily black institutions (PBIs) as they work to strengthen career outcomes for their students. The ultimate goal is to increase the number of graduates who immediately transition to meaningful jobs in their chosen fields.

The Lab is excited to have been able to bring its work on career pathways, 21st century skills development and skills-based hiring to the convening, as well as lead the teams through a design process in sprint form that helped them push parameters of possibilities and partnerships, and even their current structures and service delivery models.  The sprint is part of the UNCF® Career Pathways Initiative (CPI), funded by Lilly Endowment, a $50 million investment over a seven-year period. The Lab introduced participants to design tools on empathy, ideation, prototyping and iteration. We engaged as provocateurs experts who are using “non-traditional” preparation methods to help minority students succeed after college.

Questions? Partnership ideas? Contact us at

Recent News

HBCUs Excel at Supporting Black Students. Here’s Why Strengthening Their Career Outcomes Matters.

Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) were founded with the principal mission to educate African-Americans, providing pathways to opportunities for a population that was systematically excluded from active participation in higher education. At the Lab, we believe that if we can both enable traditionally under-resourced institutions to rethink their programming and co-design with them new models to enhance career outcomes, we can scale these initiatives to positively impact all learners across the higher education ecosystem. In other words, designing for resource-constrained institutions and underserved learners—in human-centered design, we might say “extreme users”—will address the needs of the many.

ReImagining the Resume with Members of 47 HBCUs

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The Lab leads Innovation Design Sprint for UNCF Career Pathways Initiative

Twitter LinkedIn The Lab leads Innovation Design Sprint for UNCF Career Pathways InitiativeHow do you turn the ship– historically black colleges and...

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Michelle Batt


Design Challenge Lead

Michelle is a Design Challenge Lead for the Lab’s Badging Challenge. Michelle is also the President of Lead by Experience, offering strategic and tactical consulting to help leadership teams across: business, health care and education improve their customer experience.

Through her coaching, Michelle loves to “gently” break up typical functional silos to stimulate collaboration and steer change management across organizations. She integrates new, cost effective, ways to capture and understand customers’ expectations, wants and needs.

Prior to establishing her own business, Michelle held executive positions in telecommunications at MCI and NII Holdings where she held the position of Senior Director of Customer Experience. Michelle earned a Masters of Arts degree in Education: Curriculum & Instruction from Loyola College in Maryland and completed an Executive Certification in Global Leadership from Georgetown University – the McDonough School of Business.


Michael Meotti photo-2

Michael Meotti

Higher Ed Fellow

Mike brings extensive experience in higher education policy, innovation and management to Education Design Lab’s work.   Mike has a broad perspective on the challenges facing colleges and universities based on his past leadership positions in state government, nonprofit organizations and higher education systems. He has led transformation initiatives in all of these sectors.

Mike served as Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Higher Education and Executive Vice President and chief operating officer of the Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education. 

Mike was a member of the Executive Committee and Vice Chair of the Federal Relations Committee of the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO).  He led the Connecticut delegation in the National Governors Association Best Practices Academy “Complete to Compete” and in Complete College America.  Michael was also active in the state policy track of Achieving the Dream and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Coalition for the Common Core Standards.  He earned his J.D. and B.S. degrees from Georgetown University.

Prior to his work in higher education, Mike led several nonprofit organizations that provided services addressing the needs of many “first generation” and returning adult students.